Serving the region for more than 25 years, WNC Health Network exists to support community health across western North Carolina. The organization contributes to the movement toward healthy and thriving communities by:
- Collecting, curating and sharing high-quality health data;
- Building local and regional capacity to plan, facilitate, implement and evaluate community health improvement efforts;
- Supporting and enhancing health communications;
- Leveraging their unique, regional role to contribute both to top regional health issues and to connectivity and alignment across community health stakeholders and efforts.
WNC Health Network values building capacity, supporting connections and using human-centered approaches. The organization is committed to developing processes that meaningfully engage their customers’ communities and partners – particularly those most impacted by the health issue at hand. They also value collaboration locally and regionally – developing tools and resources that build our region’s capacity. These values can be seen in action through their work to convene and support WNC Healthy Impact and the WNC Health Communicators Collaborative.
Spotlight on WNC Health Network’s Health Communications Program
WNC Health Network convenes the WNC Health Communicators Collaborative, a group of local and regional health communicators that began meeting in March, 2019, as a group of peers to share resources, information and learning opportunities. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the group began meeting virtually each week to support each other and communicate with communities about COVID-19 prevention.
In September 2020, the Collaborative braided together funding from MAHEC, AdventHealth Hendersonville, Dogwood Health Trust and Mission Health to coordinate a three-month, five-county pilot of a collaborative regional COVID-19 communications campaign. Based on the success of the pilot, in December 2020, Dogwood Health Trust provided funding to expand the campaign to help move the needle on COVID-19 through the end of August, 2021. This time, 16 counties, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and several local organizations elected to participate.
The My Reason WNC public health campaign centers on the collaborating efforts of local public health agencies throughout western North Carolina to effectively share crucial information and messages related to COVID-19 with local residents. Recognizing that community leaders and advocates are often some of the most trusted voices in their communities, the campaign features images and video testimonials of community members from the region sharing their motivations for practicing the 3 Ws of COVID-19 safety (wearing a face covering, waiting 6 feet apart and washing hands frequently) and why they received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Campaign materials are primarily delivered through social media and allow local public health entities to counter misinformation and target communities with positive, evidence-based messaging in English and Spanish. On a local and regional level, they continually track and share metrics, including engagement, reach and website traffic to ensure campaigns were successful and resonated with target audiences. To date, the campaign has reached over 734,000 residents and counting.
“We are grateful to Dogwood for listening to the WNC Health Communicators Collaborative and supporting the approach they knew would make the greatest impact in our region. We’re proud of the collaborative spirit of western NC and how it has allowed us to have a unified regional voice in fighting the pandemic, while still valuing local autonomy, expertise and trusted messengers,” says Executive Director for WNC Health Network Erin Braasch.